It’s been 517 days.
517 days of trying to keep a house and be a solo parent running to work, school, daycare, sports, religious education…
517 days of trying to keep my shit together so I can at least attempt to accomplish some of the tasks in the list above…
After all, it’s been seventeen months- I should be putting the pieces back together and getting back to business as usual, right? Well, the funny thing about the finality of death is that that finality only bring peace to the one who’s dead. Most days, I am too busy to think about Sean being dead, which is both a blessing- and a curse.
In the early days of my grief, I had a conversation with my Grandfather, a man who knows more than his fair share about grief after burying two children- I told him “I feel like I can see my grief coming at me like a train in the distance and one day it’s going to hit me” and he told me “Can I give you some advice? Let it.”
But I didn’t.
And I ran and I ran and I ran.
But everyone should know that you can’t outrun a train.
And it finally hit me.
It’s never a good day for a nervous breakdown, but the day mine came- it couldn’t have been worse timing.
It was the day of Luke’s Baptism.
Luke was a challenging child before Sean died and after it only got worse. After months of general daily challenges and weeks of severe attitude, disrespect and nasty comments about how much I’m hated, ect and just a general bad energy getting passed back and forth between us- it came to a head after a forty minute tantrum about getting dressed. In the midst of the screaming and crying, trying to get myself and the kids ready to go- I absolutely lost my shit. I called my mom and told her to come get the kids because I was leaving. I frantically “packed” (more like stuffed random crap into a bag) not knowing what I was going to do or where I was going to go- all I knew was I needed to get out.
My mom arrived and I got in my car and just left…
I started driving without any idea of where I was going to go or what I was going to do.
I sat in a parking lot, turned off the location on my phone, turned it on ‘Do not Disturb’.
I thought about going to the cemetery.
I thought about going to the liquor store and checking into a hotel.
I thought about just driving away.
I tried calling my therapist twice. She didn’t answer. I didn’t leave a message.
I sat in the empty parking lot of an Office Max and just screamed and cried and beat my steering wheel.
At this point, I knew my mom would have left with the kids to church by them…so I just went back home.
I looked at my phone and saw numerous missed calls and texts.
I didn’t care enough to answer.
I had reached rock bottom and didn’t want to take anyone down with me. My best friend texted me, asking if she could come sit with me, I told her I didn’t want to talk. I grabbed a six pack out of my fridge and got in the shower. I hammered as many as I could. I didn’t even feel the hot water of the shower, or the ice cold can in my hand. I heard a knock on the door and her apprehensive voice on the other end. It didn’t even occur to me until that moment that me going AWOL given the circumstance- might make someone think I was dead.
“I’m alive” I answered, my tone expressing the disappointment.
She asked to come in, I told her I’d be out in a minute.
I didn’t want to face her.
I didn’t want to talk.
I didn’t want a hug.
I just wanted to be left the fuck alone for once.
But she knew that’s not what I needed.
I took the remainder of my six pack and got into bed. She asked to lay with me.
“Fine. But I don’t want to talk” I said again.
So we laid there quietly.
And then I spilled my guts.
Between sobs and screams I articulated 517 days’ worth of emotion-
I cried and cried and screamed until my eyes were burning and puffy and my voice was horse.
I hyperventilated until I felt sick.
She took my alcohol and replaced it with tissues, water and gummy bears. I both hate, and love her for that.
But then the profound guilt set it. Today was Luke’s Baptism…and I wasn’t there for him. My sister called and asked what the plan was, I had initially planned a luncheon following the Baptism. I told her to go to the luncheon and I’d meet them there. I threw my wet hair up, put some makeup on and got dressed.
I didn’t want to go.
I wanted to stay in bed.
I wanted to be alone.
Truthfully, I didn’t want to be here anymore on that day.
I didn’t want to kill myself, but I was in a place where I wasn’t going to try if something happened to me.
It was not a good place to be- and I knew that. So, I forced myself out.
My best friend drove me to the luncheon, when I arrived I was nervous to go inside, I was embarrassed of my breakdown, and felt awful for not being at the Baptism.
I pulled Luke aside and apologized, told him I loved him and we hugged for a long time before he wanted to go back to playing with his cousins.
After the luncheon, my mother in law took the kids and I went home, sat in my living room with my best friend and watched Game of Thrones and took a nap. It had been raining all day, but now the sun was finally out.
I try really hard to be this “Wonder Widow”
To take this horrible atrocity that happened to me and my family, and make good. To come out on top.
But the reality is that I’m not and I can’t. I thought at seventeen months that I would start to be OK again.
But I’m not.
I am depressed, anxious, stressed, overwhelmed, frustrated, angry and just so God damn tired. Just when I start to think things might be looking up, grief side-swipes me without the courtesy of a heads up. Things are falling apart faster than I can try to pick of the pieces.
Despite my overwhelming sense of failure as a parent right now, I am trying to learn from this and recognize the precursors to a nervous breakdown, so that I can ask for help and take a step back before I break down and let anyone else, especially my children become a causality of my volatile emotional state.
Easier said than done.
Check back in another 517 days.